If we’re honest, all of us question ourselves – and God. We wonder if He made the wisest choice when He gave us the kids, job, promotion, ministry, circumstance, or relationship we have. We know the truth. We’ve memorized the Sunday School answer: God is sovereign. He created us perfectly to do things He planned for us alone, and He intends for us to change the world right where we are. I wonder, though, do we spend enough time appreciating what that change looks like day in and day out?
Lately, I’ve been impressed how the sovereign answer works itself out daily pretty well. The Bible is full of people just like you and me whose stories can teach us if we’re willing. They give us reason to marvel at God’s wisdom, remember the benefits of following Him, and appreciate how the commonplace can be amazing when we place it firmly in His hands.
The key to resting in God daily means finding peace with our lack of control. We are not the providers, and as much as we’d like it to be so, success is not based on our skill, education, personality or talent.
God created and imagined our personalities, gave us talents and passions, and provided for our training, education and experience – all of which makes us who we are and brings us, step-by-step, to where we are going.
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-27), the property owner gave his servants a certain number of talents. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to the last, he gave one talent — “each according to his ability (NIV).” Two of the servants set off to earn the master a good return, while the third cowardly buried his “one talent” in the sand. Rather than recognizing that the owner trusted him to manage his one talent, he made excuses and let fear of failure derail what should have been a great opportunity.
Are we not prone to do the same? We stand around wondering why she received more talents than me, reducing our view of God to some unfair taskmaster, which leads to formulating excuses — all while missing the chance to see Him in action. Let’s resolve to stop it. Instead, let’s hit our knees, thank God for what He’s entrusted to us, and get to work. He knows exactly what we need and what we can handle. All He expects is that we steward our gifts well. What a freeing thought: God is the wise Giver of all good things, and He’s given them out according to our abilities. Let’s trust Him. And, for heaven’s sake, let’s not keep making the same mistakes, thinking we know best.
One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is found in Luke 5:4-11. Jesus had just finished teaching a small lakeside group when He turned to Simon and said, “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch (NIV).” Simon answered obediently, but since he is only human, I like to imagine that his inner dialogue may have read slightly different than what he allowed to come out of his mouth: “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Go with me: the carpenter told the tired, experienced fisherman to “put out into deep waters” after a long night of unsuccessful fishing. First of all: the nerve! Second, and more astonishing, Simon actually did it! Even though he “knew better,” the fisherman obeyed the carpenter and ended up hauling in what was no doubt the biggest catch of his career. I wonder if Simon Peter’s first thought was what the catch would mean for his business and his family. We aren’t privy to that insight, but we do see him leave everything to follow the world-changing Carpenter who knew a little about fishing as well as wood. God is wise. He knows what we can handle, and the benefits of listening to Him, obeying Him, believing and following Him are “astonishing (v. 9)!” If Simon Peter had decided to stick around Galilee and make a sweet profit off of his massive catch, none of us would even know his name. If Simon Peter – and his companions, James and John – had let fear, doubt or distraction keep them from following Christ, we might not even be considering Him today, and they would have missed out on life with God’s own Son.
So, what does an ordinary world-changer look like? A selfless servant, a weary fisherman, maybe a dramatic, chatty soccer mom, or the person you see when you look in the mirror. David, the sinful, youngest, poetic son in a dysfunctional family somehow managed to be called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). How did he do it? The same way the faithful servants and Simon Peter did. He took the ordinary things God gave him, fearlessly stepped out – even when everyone else stood still — and chose to believe that the same God who delivered him from the paw of the lion and the bear would deliver him from Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David was a man after God’s own heart because he sought God’s own heart. He believed God was enough and would use him, in His time, because He said He would. Remember that the next time you question yourself. Look in the mirror and see a world-changer!
God has given you exactly what you need for what He’s called you to do. He only expects you to steward what you’ve got.
He is faithfully using all of the ordinary things you think you know to prepare you for the extraordinary life that comes from following Him. Pray. Ask Him for the power to do what He asks and then step out into the deep, ready to be astonished!
Joeli Mulligan is a Christian dramatist, speaker, singer and sometimes blogger. Check out her website at: speechlessministries.org.